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Executive receives update on Penrith Masterplan engagement process

Tonight (4 December 2018), Eden District Council’s Executive received an update on the public engagement process for the Penrith Strategic Masterplan - A Vision to 2050.

The non-statutory public engagement process for the Masterplan (the document has no legal status), took place over eight weeks from 10 September 2018 to 2 November 2018. The engagement exercise was resource-intensive and comprised a ‘pop-up shop’ at 3 Middlegate, Penrith, and a range of public drop-in events across the District.

During the public engagement period, the ‘pop up shop’ had 997 visits (these are not unique visits, as some members of the public visited more than once). Some 242 comments were made on the ‘pop up shop’s’ graffiti wall.

The response to the 15 pop up community engagement events varied enormously, with few people attending events held in the other market towns outside Penrith, whereas 42 people attended an event held in Langwathby and some 260 students took part in three events held at Ullswater Community College. At these events, comment postcards were available for people to complete. We received 230.

The dedicated website for the public engagement process included plans, documents to download, frequently asked questions and links to a Survey Monkey questionnaire. 4,787 people visited the website, with 8,686 unique page views. 667 respondents completed the questionnaire, which included tick box responses and an open comment box.

The Council also used social media to engage with the public and ran a dedicated Facebook page and posted tweets through its corporate Twitter account. The reach from the posts and tweets was 870,000, from an impression of 225,000 and an engagement of 1,620 (number of people liking and commenting). The social activity from social media attracted 1,016 visitors to the dedicated website.

The Council received 72 email responses from the public and 14 from consultees, such as the County Council, United Utilities and the Environment Agency. The Council commissioned an independent market research company to survey residents within Penrith about the general objectives contained within the Strategic Masterplan proposals. The Council will include the results in the evaluation of the engagement process.

The Council received and validated two petitions. The first petition, submitted by ‘Friends of the Beacon’, confirmed that “we the ‘friends of Penrith Beacon’ petition Eden District Council to take the necessary action for all of the Beacon Forest to remain as it is now, a wild place with no development and accessibility to all residents”. It was the subject of a debate by Council on 8 November 2018. The Council received this petition shortly after Lowther and Lonsdale Estates formally withdrew the Beacon Forest Area from the Masterplan proposals.

The Council received a second submission comprising of prepaid postcards containing statements and comments, an online petition containing a statement of objection and a series of signed petition sheets reflecting the online petition, as a formal petition from ‘Keep Penrith Special’. The petition seeks rejection of the Masterplan of Eden District Council. Accordingly, full Council will debate this petition on Thursday 10 January 2019.

Eden District Council’s Leader, Kevin Beaty, said: “The public engagement exercise has stimulated a debate and engaged people in considering the issues the area faces, such as a decreasing working age population, a low wage economy, providing the right mix of housing and its affordability and how to improve the vitality of Penrith town centre.

“We are keen to continue the conversation with the public and stakeholders and as a move forward to evaluate the feedback received from the public engagement and to review the conclusions reached from the traffic modelling exercise for Penrith, the Eden-wide flood risk assessment and the current housing needs survey in the months ahead. This is a significant piece of work, which will inform a concluding report to this stage of the process expected in early 2019.”

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